Neche, ND, Man Sentenced to 60 Years for Multiple Offenses of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor and Possession and Distribution of Child Pornography
Fargo – United States Attorney Drew H. Wrigley announced that on November 12, 2019, Chief Judge U.S. District Court Peter D. Welte sentenced Brandon Lee Bjornstad, age 35, Neche, North Dakota, to serve 60 years in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release for the charges of Sexual Exploitation of Minors, Extortion, Receipt and Distribution of Materials Containing Child Pornography, and Possession of Materials Containing Child Pornography. Bjornstad was further ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,635.00 to the victims and $1,800.00 in special assessments to the Crime Victims’ Fund.
Between May 2015 and May 2017, Bjornstad solicited thousands of self-produced child pornography from hundreds of children located across the United States and elsewhere. Using various aliases, Bjornstad coerced hundreds of children into producing and electronically sharing their self-produced sexually explicit images and videos. Bjornstad illegally enticed his victims with the use of multiple social media platforms such as Skype, Kik, Snapchat, and Musical.ly, among others. On hundreds of occasions, he directed the children to engage in very specific sexually explicit conduct after which he recorded the live presentations. In many cases, Bjornstad then shared this material with others, including other children, and other adult men who shared his sexual interest in children. To date, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation has identified 90 children residing in three different countries as part of this investigation.
“This defendant used social media and preyed on young girls whom he enticed into self-producing explicit photos and videos,” said United States Attorney Drew Wrigley, adding, “these young girls were essentially coerced into on-line sexual servitude, through manipulation and intimidation. Brandon Lee Bjornstad’s 60 year sentence represents justice in this case, and the details of his heinous crimes send a somber warning about the very real and present dangers that lurk just a key stroke away on so many social media platforms.”
United States Attorney Wrigley praised the efforts of the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, and Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Puhl, all of whom Wrigley said, “tirelessly pursued this investigation and secured justice on behalf of hundreds of young victims.”
Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Puhl prosecuted the case.
This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the nation, Project Safe Childhood, in conjunction with Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), help federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies enhance their investigative responses to offenders who use the Internet, online communications systems, or computer technology to sexually exploit children. The ICAC Program is a national network of 61 coordinated task forces engaging in proactive investigations, forensic investigations, and criminal prosecutions. Project Safe Childhood also helps to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.